100 Creatives

Phoenix Flea Founder Ashlee Molina on What Creative Entrepreneurship Means

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 60. Ashlee Molina.

Art meets organizing when Ashlee Molina's involved. Problem solving and strong opinions, too. And Instagram.

Molina, 33, is the founder of Phoenix Flea, which assembles Valley creatives and collectors in spring and fall to vend their goods at Heritage Square. She thinks of them as community events, ways to connect local innovators making unique things. 

"I’ve always wanted to be a creative entrepreneur," she says. "I love the process of coming up with an idea and then figuring out a way to turn it into something tangible and relevant to other people."

Although her schedule changes dramatically week to week — sometimes she clocks five hours and others she hits 100 — Molina always has her eye on what's next. Case in point: The first Phoenix Flea After Dark event is slated for August 6 at the Vintage 45. Shoppers can expect vendors (including Alex Ozers, another one of the 100 Creatives), as well as food trucks, a DJ, and a more "grown-up vibe." 

And soon, the Mesa native will expand her retail empire further, opening a retail store in the fall. "I’ve dreamt of curating my own space forever," Molina says. 

Located upstairs at DeSoto Central Market, the Phoenix Flea store will carry items similar to what you'd find at the market event, such as home decor, local art, candles, cards, planters, accessories, and ceramics, among other items. "It's a pretty Arizona-centric store," Molina says. "Ninety percent of our products will be locally made. Like Phoenix Flea, I want to keep it fresh by continually adding new products and vendors."

Those looking to get involved should keep an eye out for a call to artists later this July, when samples of products will be considered for the shop. The big opening? That's the next, next thing on Molina's calendar, set for the beginning of September. 

I came (back) to Phoenix with plans to leave. But I ended up falling in love with Phoenix.

I make art because my head is full of ideas and I love trying to turn them into something, whether it's a new project for my house or a new business. I have notebooks full of plans and so many Instagram accounts Instagram won’t let me create anymore.

I'm most productive when it’s late at night and I have a deadline.

My inspiration wall is full of photos of people and places I love. Travel and experiences inspire and motivate me to create and think outside the box.

I've learned most from
failure and mistakes. I’m most creative when I have a problem to solve.

Good work should always be unique and constantly changing.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more confidence. We have an incredible community here, and it’s just getting bigger and better.

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski